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“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
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“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
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Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
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“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
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20. ABC Spikes New Tobacco Expose’ When Sued for Libel

Source: THE VILLAGE VOICE Date: 9/12/95; “Up In Smoke” Author: James Ledbetter

SYNOPSIS: In 1993, ABC’s “Turning Point” hired Frank and Martin Koughan, an Emmy Award-winning documentary team, to do a broad survey of the tobacco merchants’ annus horribilis that followed the Environmental Protection Agency’s classification of secondhand smoke as a carcinogen, and the Clinton Administration’s proposal to support health care reform by heavily taxing cigarettes.

The final cut, reported by ABC’s Meredith Vieira, was a tough, well-narrated takeout on the business responsible for the nation’s largest health problem. It focused on the marketing and manufacturing of tobacco products here and abroad, and broke some new ground.

Martin Koughan said the film was passed on and approved by ABC’s editorial and law departments,” and was scheduled to run in late March or early April 1994.

It didn’t. On March 24, Koughan said he got a call from “Turning Point” senior (now executive) producer Betsy West, who told him that he was going to have to “rework” the film.

Coincidentally, March 24 also was the day that Phillip Morris filed a $10 billion libel suit against Capital Cities/ABC for two “Day One” reports on tobacco-doctoring (which prompted the network to cough up an abject apology in August 1995).

What happened next is in dispute. Koughan says there was a dispute about meeting schedules and that ABC never showed up for a planned session to discuss revisions. West says that Koughan “was absolutely uncooperative in making the story better” adding that ABC executives had never signed off on the show. West also swears, “I know this suit is not the reason it didn’t air.” Paul Friedman, ABC’s executive vice president, also said the lawsuit “didn’t even enter my mind” when he killed the segment.

Eventually, Koughan was told that the film would not be used. In a settlement agreement, his production company was paid for its work, but ABC owns all rights to the film. Thus, although ABC has spent some $500,000 on the project, the network has no plans to air it, nor can it be broadcast anywhere else.

There are at least two segments of “Tobacco Under Fire” that would have been network scoops. One details how the American tobacco industry is moving production overseas. The documentary claims that American tobacco companies are developing and distributing seeds to be grown in Brazil, Malawi, Guatemala, and Argentina, where tobacco farming costs about half of what it costs here, and where, unlike Kentucky or the Carolinas, there are no regulations about acreage, volume, or pricing. The film predicts that this shift will ultimately undermine American tobacco farmers, who are some of the industry’s most powerful lobbyists.

Second, the film claims that during the Reagan and Bush Administrations, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office spent an inordinate amount of time threatening trade sanctions against Asian countries that had stalled at letting American tobacco companies advertise. This extraordinary charge came from Reagan’s own surgeon general C. Everett Koop, who said “If these trade policies were known right now, they’d be condemned by the American people.”

Unfortunately, most Americans will not hear about the trade policies or the other tobacco company transgressions because ABC censored the documentary.

SSU Censored Researcher: Stephanie Horner

COMMENTS: Investigative author James Ledbetter said the “subject received precious little attentionit was covered in the New York Daily News in 1994 and the Washington Post in passing. I believe, however, I am the only one who wrote about the actual content of “The Turning Point’ segment.”

Ledbetter feels the public would benefit from greater exposure of this issue since “It would gain insight into the realities of tobacco’s aggressive overseas marketing; and it points out how difficult it is for network television to criticize tobacco companies.”

Those who benefit from the lack of media coverage given this issue, according to Ledbetter, include, “tobacco companies, ABC executives, and the Bush Administration.”

Ledbetter concluded, “Obviously, in light of the canned ’60 Minutes’ story, it is one more chapter in the sorry recent history of networks caving in to powerful interests.”

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